All OCAA Participants Are Required To Be Fully Vaccinated

PHOTO BY SARA SHEIKH / SPUTNIK PHOTOGRAPHY

Announced on September 7, the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) issued a statement requiring all participants to be fully vaccinated in order to play in OCAA events.

PHOTO VIA THE OCAA

“Effective Oct. 20, 2021, all OCAA participants (i.e., student-athletes, coaches, support staff, athletic therapists, officials) must provide proof of being fully vaccinated (14 days after their second dose) to their respective institution to be eligible to participate in any OCAA-sanctioned competition,” states OCCA’S website.

The initial news may be a shock to student-athletes and coaches who now must ensure these protocols are not only being followed by everyone, but enforced to every individual involved in OCAA.

“My initial reaction when hearing about the news of the requirements to participate was rather disheartening,” said Roberto Sosa, a fourth-year student at Laurier Brantford. “Many athletes for whatever choice just like everyone else should not be punished by not taking the vaccine.”

The vaccine has been a topic of discussion since the idea was discussed as one of the many options to deal with COVID-19.

Many people have voiced concerns for not taking the vaccine due to religious reasons, the uncertainty of how effective it would be, and wanting to know more information about it before making a final decision on what they feel is the best option.

“As Canadians, we merit the rights to choose whether we want the vaccine or not, and that should be a personal and private decision we should not be judged for,” continued Sosa.

Since some students and coaches may have not received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, certain teams may be held back from creating a full roster to compete.

As the school year is now underway and teams are starting to be formed, many colleges may encounter more struggles than they were anticipating for the 2021/2022 season.

Since sports was cancelled for the academic school year in 2020/2021, colleges were ready to make the necessary adjustments to allow sports to be played for the upcoming year.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / THE SPUTNIK SPORTS

Now after the recent news of the OCAA requiring all participants to be vaccinated, individuals could be deterred from partaking in OCAA activities and events.

“I think there is going to be less participation in sports this year,” said Enoch Oppong, a fourth-year student at Laurier Brantford, “Some athletes will not feel comfortable playing because of their views on the vaccine.”

The recent news of the full vaccination requirements may be more of a problem for winter teams in particular since fall competitions have started already in the OCAA. 

GRAPHIC BY CARISA COUTINHO / SPUTNIK PHOTOGRAPHY

How students react across all ages will be something to watch out for since some first and second-year students will be experiencing strict health rules surrounding COVID-19 in a sports setting for the first time.

“I am worried for the younger generation who were not able to play sports last year,” said Oppong,  “Now joining a varsity team comes with extra rules and regulations which were not around before. Although it is for the benefit of our health and safety, it is still a worry of mine.

Some student-athletes, coaches, support staff, athletic therapists and officials may feel their opinions are not being considered and decide to skip out on the upcoming season.

While approved exemptions are allowed, people who wish to be a part of OCAA events will still be required to produce a negative rapid antigen under testing protocols.

“I have personally seen the negative side effects of the vaccine with people in my family, so I am in a grey area about the whole issue,” said Oppong.

Since certain families are against the vaccine due to numerous reasons, full vaccination may not be possible for some individuals.

Now, issues can escalate to where players or officials want to be fully vaccinated, but because of extreme conditions cannot partake in the process of doing so.

While it can be seen as a simple solution for some, the vaccine for COVID-19 is not easily accessible to everyone.

Religion, health issues, and the unwillingness to take the vaccine as a whole, are just some of the reasons why people are against this idea.

While the OCAA has announced this statement which goes into effect from October 20, 2021, many individuals may struggle with the new rules being enforced.

Everyone is encouraged to adhere to the safety protocols to ensure sports are upheld for the upcoming school year and to keep everyone safe from contracting COVID-19.

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